Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) now recommend that residents use cloth face coverings when in public to protect against the spread of COVID-19.
The guidance is in line with the recommendation issued Friday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that individuals wear non-medical grade masks or face coverings when out in public areas. The use of face coverings is not mandated.
“It is critical that our residents understand this is an additional recommendation and does not replace physical distancing, staying home when you are sick, covering your cough and sneeze, hand washing, and disinfecting high touch surfaces several times a day, which are our first line of defense in halting the spread of the virus,” Gaylor Baird said. “If you must be in public for essential activities – like medical appointments, grocery shopping or picking up medications – wearing a cloth face covering is another preventive measure that can keep our community safer.”
LLCHD said residents should not use surgical and N95 masks, unless specifically advised to do so by a medical provider. Surgical and N95 masks are reserved for first responders and medical workers.
Those who have medical grade masks are asked to donate them to a medical facility to protect the lives of our medical professionals.
The CDC said there is increased evidence that people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus, and that droplets produced when breathing, speaking, coughing or sneezing may spread COVID-19 from person to person. The CDC said studies show that wearing simple masks or face coverings that cover the mouth and nose can prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses and lower the risk of infection.
It is also believed this effect is greatest when masks are used along with hand washing and social distancing.
LLCHD also issued the following advice:
- Those who are staying in a home where no one else in the family is infected do not need to wear a face covering at home.
- Children under age two and people with breathing difficulties should not wear face coverings.
- Those who are improvising face coverings or making them from patterns should use fabrics like heavy cotton T-shirt material or pillowcase material.
- Face coverings should be washed after each use, or at least daily. Coverings should be kept in a paper bag or separate bin until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle.
- Do not put a used face covering in places where others can touch it or where germs trapped in the face covering can touch other surfaces.
- Before putting on or taking off a face covering, individuals should wash their hands thoroughly. Hands should also be washed after removing the face covering. People should avoid touching their faces and the face coverings while wearing them.
- Store your face covering in a paper bag if you will be taking if off when outside the house.